HomeSportAbigail Munikwa, sport’s iron lady

Abigail Munikwa, sport’s iron lady

This old cliché can aptly be used on Abigail Munikwa. Garbed in a designer grey pair of trousers, white top and an unbuttoned shirt, Munikwa can easily pass for an office girl.

 

It’s difficult for anyone to picture the bespectacled University of Zimbabwe trained physiotherapist in a tracksuit attending to injured players in the dressing room or running energetically with water bottles to attend to  players on the football pitch.

However, since 2009 the 34-year-old, who works at St Annes private hospital in Harare, has been doing just that and not only in football pitches, but also in the gruelling sport of rugby.

It is upon talking to her that one will notice the toughness and the mental preparedness of the lady.

No wonder why she has been involved with two of the most popular brands in local sport, Dynamos and Old Hararians rugby club.

Munikwa, who attained a Bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy in 2006, has now expanded her horizons by also venturing into sports administration this year.

She now sits on the boards of three associations, namely Northern Rugby League, Harare province rugby league and the national woman’s rugby where she is a secretary.

Her love for sport has not been rosy as in October 2009 she was barred from checking into a Dynamos hotel after some superstitious executives believed that her presence on the bench was working against their team.

She subsequently left the team after serving the club for just two months as a physiotherapist.

The scars of that experience are still fresh on Munikwa’s mind though she tries to play down the whole issue. However, she winces at every mention of Dynamos.

“I do not want to talk about Dynamos please! We can talk about anything else, but not Dynamos. I am trying to move on. I even can’t go to watch the team’s matches because of that issue,” said the physiotherapist.

The experience also left her with a deep mistrust of men’s soccer and has vowed never to work with a male football team in future.

“The experience at Dynamos was just painful, but the issue was just blown out of proportion. In this country soccer teams are just not ready to accept women on their technical teams.

“At one time I overhead a head coach of a certain team, whom I am not going to reveal, saying that if your team loses a game and there is a woman sitting on that bench, it means that woman sleeps with a lot of men. That was very painful for me as a woman,” she said.

She added that she should be judged as a person and not based on  race, gender or anything.

“People in soccer resist change and that is why I like to work with rugby teams. I am happy that Scholar Chikukwa (a physiotherapist) is still at Lengthens and the supporters and the directors there have welcomed her,” she said.

Munikwa added that she is happy that the supreme sports controlling bodies in the country do not hold such perceptions.

“I have worked with Zimbabwe Olympic Committee (ZOC) and Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) and they do not hold such beliefs which, to me, are archaic. I now enjoy working with rugby guys as they treat you the way you are,” she said.

She added she would not be working for OH this year owing to pressure of work.

After the Dynamos experience, many would have expected Munikwa to sulk and have nothing to do with sport but she is still going strong.

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